By Joseph Gunther
The Minnesota Vikings shocked the football world by winning four straight games to finish the season and clinch the final wild card spot in the playoffs.
Their reward is a third matchup against the Green Bay Packers, the team they beat in Week 17 to secure a spot in the postseason, and second at Lambeau Field this season.
Offensive Player of the Month: RB Adrian Peterson
The sixth-year running back collected 861 yards, five rushing touchdowns, five catches for 32 yards and a receiving touchdown in the five games during the month. He was a dominant runner that led the Vikings to the playoffs and should be hoisting the league’s MVP award. The Vikings would have only had a few wins without him, despite his reconstructed knee.
Runners-up: QB Christian Ponder, TE Kyle Rudolph, WR Jerome Simpson, WR Jarius Wright
Defensive Player of the Month: DE Everson Griffen
The third-year defensive end really stepped up his game after Brian Robison was hurt in the Week 15 win over the St. Louis Rams. He had only 13 tackles (including five for a loss), but showed his versatility. He recorded four sacks (three against the Packers in Week 17), nine hits on the quarterback, two passes defensed, one interception for a touchdown and one fumble recovery. Griffen’s versatility and athleticism are a huge asset for the Vikings defense.
Runners-up: DE Jared Allen, LB Jasper Brinkley, LB Chad Greenway, S Harrison Smith
Special Teams Player of the Month: K Blair Walsh
The rookie kicker made eight of nine field goals and 10 of 10 extra point attempts. He also helped the kickoff coverage unit keep the opposing kick returner from reaching the 25-yard line for most of the season with high, deep kicks. He set the NFL record for most field goals made from 50 yards or longer.
Runners-up: P Chris Kluwe, LS Cullen Loeffler, TE Kyle Rudolph, KR/PR Marcus Sherels
Best Win: Vikings 37, Packers 34
This was the perfect way for the Vikings to finish the season; with a win over its biggest rival that clinches a playoff spot and keeps the Packers from getting the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Vikings offense had its best game of the season. It responded to every Green Bay score and never trailed in the game. The Vikings won nearly every battle; rushing yardage, third down efficiency, yards per play, sacks, turnover differential and time of possession.
Best Newcomer: WR Jerome Simpson
The fifth-year wide receiver had his share of ups and downs this season. However, he made some really big catches during the Vikings’ four-game winning streak to finish the season. Simpson has the speed, size and athleticism to keep defenses from loading the box to stop Peterson. The Vikings need his game to continue to improve.
Runners-up: CB Josh Robinson, S Harrison Smith, K Blair Walsh, WR Jarius Wright
Quote of the Month: LB ChadGreenway
“We have to play accordingly and our fans have to show up accordingly, which we know they will. Hopefully, they’re super-duper drunk. … So drink liquor, not beer.” – Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said about the importance of the team’s Dec. 13 game against the Chicago Bears. The tongue-in-cheek comments were made following the teams last loss, which came at Lambeau Field on Dec. 2.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Vikings news, see CBS Sports Minnesota.
Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.